• More and more foreign students are taking up courses at Chinese vocational colleges.

More and more foreign students are taking up courses at Chinese vocational colleges. (Photo : Getty Images)

According to a report covering the 2015 academic year, a total of 3,487 foreign students studied at 68 vocational colleges in China, which marks a nearly 40-percent increase from the previous year's figure, China Daily reported.

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The recent study revealed that back in 2014, there were only 50 vocational colleges in the country that had international students on campus. The latest number marks a significant increase in the reputation of such academic institutions in China.

The document further emphasized that "by cooperating with educational institutions overseas, these Chinese vocational colleges will play a special and important role in the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative."

The report particularly cited colleges in the country's border provinces and regions, such as the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, as examples.

"Some vocational colleges in Guangxi make full use of their geographic position and strong courses to attract lots of students from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations," it stated.

Nonetheless, though vocational colleges allow students to acquire skills urgently needed for economic growth, the 3,487 figure remains small when compared with other college programs.

Data shows that last year, nearly 400,000 overseas students enrolled in Chinese universities and academic institutions. Some of the most popular among foreigners are the Peking University, the University of International Business and Economics, and Beijing Language and Culture University.

Experts noted that many students from abroad still prefer four-year courses.

Ma Shuchao, former deputy director of Shanghai Academy of Educational Sciences, shared that many international students found vocational courses, such as Chinese cooking, attractive.

However, upon learning that it is only for three years and it only delivers a vocational certificate, a lot has given up the idea in exchange for a program that gives a bachelor's degree, Ma added.

Released on Friday, the report was jointly published by the Shanghai Academy of Educational Sciences and the education research firm, MyCOS Institute.